The big news this week around Miner Nation is that the Lady Miners basketball team has clinched at least a share of the Conference USA title, but that there is only the tip of the iceberg. There's plenty to talk about, so let's get right to it. Here's what's going around Miner Nation, Conference USA, and the nation as a whole.
AROUND MINER NATION
The Lady Miners continued their solid play on Sunday, dropping the Houston Cougars by a final of 71-51 at Hofheinz Pavilion. Gloria Brown led the way with 14 points and 6 rebounds, and three other Miners scored in double figures. Anete Steinberga finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, Kayla Thornton had 10 points and 9 rebounds, and Kristine Vitola finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
The win took the Miners to 24-2 overall, and 13-0 in conference play. More importantly, the Miners are 3 games ahead of both Memphis and UAB in the conference standings with only 3 games to play. Thus, they have clinched at least a share of the conference crown, and can wrap up the outright title with 1 more win, or a loss by both Memphis and UAB. Congratulations to the Miners, but know the hard work is far from over. Keep it up!
The latest AP poll now has the Miners with 24 votes, placing them in 30th nationally. The ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll is still yet to be released, but very well could have the Miners in the top 25...Finally.
The UTEP men's basketball team finally picked up the first road win of the season on Saturday, and in a big way. The Miners took on the league leading Memphis Tigers at the FedEx forum, and after trailing almost the entire game, found a way to take the lead, and steal the win, 60-58.
The Miners were led by Michael Perez, who finished the day with 15 points. But, MVP honors would have to go to Jacques Streeter, who may have had his best game as a Miner. The junior PG finished with 14 points and 3 rebounds, but carried the Miners late in the game with a couple key layups, and a huge contested 3.
Julian Washburn and Gabriel McCulley both finished with 9 points, and McCulley also pulled down 12 rebounds. John Bohannon went for 7 and 9, but was in foul trouble for much of the second half, and fouled out with about 4 minutes to play.
The win gives the Miners 3 of the last 4 in the series versus the Tigers, with the only loss coming in last year's C-USA championship game. This was exactly the type of that the Miners needed. Hopefully it will give them the confidence to play well and win, not only on the road, but also in games of big magnitude. The Miners will now face Southern Miss Wednesday at the Don.
The UTEP women's softball team had a tough go at things last week, dropping 4 in a row after starting the season 4-0. The Miners fell to NMSU 13-3 in the final round of the Hotel Encanto Classic last Tuesday, followed up with losses to nationally ranked North Carolina, Louisiana Lafayette, and more recently Louisiana Tech all in the Mardi Gras Classic.
Up next, the Miners will take part in the Fairfield Inn North Texas Shootout in Waco, TX. They will take on Stephen F. Austin and Baylor on Friday, and Texas Tech and Texas St. on Saturday. A final round matchup that is yet to be determined will take place on Sunday. Good luck to Lady Miners.
Last week the 2012 football schedule was released, and as we all already know a home game against Oklahoma, and road trips to Oxford to take on Ole Miss, and Madison to take on Wisconsin highlight the 2012 slate. Linked here is a piece written by Berry Trammel: Trip to El Paso interesting, if not competitive.
"The Oklahoma-UTEP season opener is interesting on several fronts, though good competition is not necessarily one of them...Texas-El Paso is not the doormat it was in the 1970s and 1990s, but it’s not like UTEP poses any kind of real threat to the Sooners."
I mean technically the guy is right on point, but the arrogance that he writes his article is just a little much for me. Its things like this that make me wish the stars would just completely align that day so we can show Mr. Trammel exactly where he needs to stick his foot.
Anyway, the season opener and the trips to Oxford and Madison will likely be losses, but hopefully they prepare our Miners for a solid run in C-USA. We'll see how it all plays out.
AROUND CONFERENCE USA
Last week UTEP senior F Gloria Brown averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 assists en route to victories over both Tulsa and Houston. The wins helped the Miners earn at least a share of the Conference USA crown, and also gave them the no. 1 seed in the upcoming C-USA tournament.The honor is Brown's second this season.
Tulane freshman G Ricky Tarrant was named Conference USA freshman of the week today, giving the guard 7 FOTW honors on the season, and five in a row. Last week, in games against UAB and Memphis, he averaged better than 26 points a game. On top of his 7 FOTW awards, Tarrant has also been named the C-USA player of the week once.
Even after both Southern Miss and Memphis suffered "bad losses" over the weekend, ESPN resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi has them safely in the NCAA tournament. Both teams are projected as "stable" 8 seeds, with the Tigers squaring off against Mississippi St. in the West region, and the Golden Eagles taking on Cal in the Midwest region. UCF is considered one of the first four teams out of the field, but with solid near locks, C-USA could potentially be looking at a 3 bid season.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
While this might not be the biggest news in college athletics on this Monday, it is certainly an interesting situation that is worth mentioning. Saturday night, in a battle between the Wolfpack and #21 Florida St., North Carolina St. legends Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani were tossed from the stadium by official Karl Hess.
Hess had already taken quite a bit of heckling from the NC State students, and decided to eject the former players after hearing from them while settling an issue at the scorer's table. No official reason for the ejection has been given, and while the referee has every right to do so, it's still a little odd.
"The more it's discussed, the more it bothers me," Corchiani said. "If you get pulled over by the police, the officer will tell you the reason. We got thrown out of the game, at least tell us why? We did absolutely nothing. We were on Hess and the other officials for six or seven calls, no different than what I've done the last 20 years in going to games as a fan."
Here is an interview with Atlanta's 790 The Zone that Corchiani did yesterday.
"Our analogy is if a policeman pulls you over driving you get some kind of explanation why. Were you swerving? Did you not put your blinker on? We’ve had no explanation from the ACC office. That’s really what we want. We want to know why we were thrown out. We’re not denying that we were on not only Karl Hess but we were on the other officials, five or six different calls, but nothing with any kind of profanity or threatening, it’s the kind of the thing that I’ve been doing since I graduated, but never have done anything to cross the line. That’s kind of where we are right now. We’d love to have an idea of what Karl Hess thought was enough to throw us out.”
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Last week Southern Miss held on to the top spot in conference, even after falling to UAB. This week the Golden Eagles fell again, this time on the road to the Houston Cougars, but Memphis also fell at home to our UTEP Miners. So, who deserves the top spot in the Conference USA Power Rankings this week? You decide.